Tausili Akana is crossing borderlines again.
Ole Miss is the latest football program to make a scholarship offer to the 6-foot-4, 220-pound sophomore.
“It’s a big surprise to get my first SEC offer. Ole Miss is a very well-known program with great history and coaches,” Akana said on Wednesday morning. “One of my favorite movies of all time is ‘Blind Side.’ I’m excited for this opportunity. It makes me want to work harder.”
Akana is fresh off the heels of a stellar performance at a Pylon tournament held in Bullhead, Ariz., where 24/7 Sports named him one of the top five defensive players. Beyond football, Akana has stepped away from his other favorite sport, but still works out on the hardwood occasionally.
“I still play hoops with NSB (North Shore Basketball),” Akana said.
A video of Akana dunking off the dribble recently didn’t hurt. It doesn’t exist on social media, but has been sent to interested recruiters.
“I think everything helps. (Ole Miss assistant coach) Coleman Hutzler saw the dunk video and was very impressed,” he said. “With no in-person recruiting going on, any type of video helps.”
Akana now has 12 offers total from a variety of conferences: Pac 12, Mountain West, Big Ten, Big 12 and, now, the SEC.
His play at the Pylon tournament was with Rebel Squad, coached by Sola Soliai, Sterling Carvalho, Lesa Maiava and Warner Pukahi. The team went 5-1 in the tourney. Akana played outside linebacker, a position he got more familiar with while playing at Wasatch (Utah) last fall.
Currently, Akana is enrolled at his home district school, Kahuku, for online classes. He plans to return to Kamehameha for junior year. He may never play for the Red Raiders, but suiting up to compete with his childhood friends is a lifelong memory.
“Being able to pay with the guys I played with on Big Boys, we did a lot of bonding with each other. It was good to catch up with my friends on the team,” Akana said.
Even with double-digit scholarship offers, the opportunity to play in the Pylon tourney opened more doors.
“Due to the 24/7 (Sports) recognition and article, other schools will hopefully reach out,” he said.
Ole Miss did.
Another mainland tourney is coming up.
“I’m preparing for another big Pylon tournament in late April in Mesquite (Nev.). I’ll be back with TMF and Coach Kawe Johnson,” he said.
Prior to transferring to Wasatch, Akana was at Kamehameha as a freshman. It feels like a lifetime ago. His plan is to return to Kapalama Heights, but Wasatch will welcome him back if high school football in Hawaii is still a no-go this summer and fall.
“I hope Hawaii high school decides to have a season. Hopefully, things start opening up here in Hawaii. I know one thing: Wasatch will have a full football season. Next season is a big year for me,” he said.
Akana doesn’t rule out the possibility of remaining at Kahuku this fall. Preparation in the spring is crucial, he said. The state has circled May 1 as a tipping-point date on the calendar for mass vaccination success, if the plan is executed. At 400,000 vaccinations per month, a majority of the state would be vaccinated by then, according to Lt. Gov. Josh Green.
The utility of social media has made communication and exposure more streamlined for island athletes.
“Hopefully, this opportunity opens up for other Hawaii kids. There is always good talent here in Hawaii,” Akana said.
Akana had a 3.8 grade-point average in his first term of the 2020-21 academic year at Wasatch.
Tausili Akana, Kamehameha/Wasatch, OLB, 6-4, 210
Arizona State 6/30/20
Oregon State 9/8/20
Utah State 9/14/20
Oklahoma State 11/16/20
Washington State 12/25/20
Ole Miss 3/3/21